Now that we’ve hit August, the thoughts of back-to-school shopping probably have crossed your mind.
If you have a family, back-to-school preparations can be as expensive as getting ready for the holidays. Even if you don’t have a family, starting college courses cost, but this is also a peak time for savings.
Let’s take a look at some easy but effective ways to save and still obtain all that’s needed for such an important time of year.
First, and really most important, know what you need. Make a list. If you haven’t looked in your closets or drawers yet, as mentioned in a previous column, now’s an even better time to do so. It’s not uncommon to have a build-up of something previously bought at another time of the year and didn’t get used. Such “found” items mean fewer expenses on your list.
Start pursuing fliers for sales. Don’t overlook the possibilities of on-line shopping—especially for any bigger ticket items—such as computers, special calculators and clothes. Many retailers offer on-line specials not offered in stores with an added bonus of time, gas and shipping savings.
Once you know where you want to shop, make a day of it. Take snacks with you to save even more, instead of spending extra on a meal. Map out the stores. Plan the simplest routes possible and add additional savings to your time and save gas.
Target and Big Lots usually get extra stock on school supplies just for this time of year.
If there are any items you know you’ll use a lot of, now is the time to purchase for the entire year.
Our grocery stores also take advantage of this time to offer items most popular for packing lunches and also in the stationary category. If you think of something you forgot to get at a regular store, the grocery stores have your back.
Google for college books on-line to save money on textbooks. Check college community boards for individuals selling books or even offering tutoring. Sign up in the financial aid department for notifications of new scholarships or grants being offered. That will reduce tuition costs even more.
Never underestimate the power of applying for grants and scholarships. Think of it as a second job. Many scholarships go unused for lack of applicants. Many feel they won’t qualify or win one, so they don’t make the effort. That means more for you. It’s never impossible.
Purchasing a backpack can be expensive, but putting money into a good quality pack means it should last for more than one school year. Kids often like to have a new lunch box and back pack as a means of expressing their identity, but you can make it new again by allowing them to pick out new decorative do-dads which refresh the look and save you money.
So don’t let back to school shopping stress you out. It can be a great time to set your family, or yourself, up for some excitement regarding a very important American right—an education.